An Intersectional Look at Black Women's Experiences in Texas Prisons



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



My project examines incarcerated Black women’s experiences of forced labor, family separation, and abuse in Texas prisons. I conducted 14 virtual interviews with Black adult women who were formerly incarcerated in Texas. I recruited my sample using non-purposive sampling and snowball sampling. My study is informed by the history of slavery, the development of prisons after the Civil War, and “violence by other means” theory. It is also informed by intersectionality. Specifically, my project aims to understand how incarcerated Black women’s experiences may vary by social class. Extant literature on prisons finds racial and gender-based differences in prison labor and that prison labor is coerced and mostly unpaid. I find similar evidence; however, I also find limited evidence of consensual, beneficial labor outcomes for women with relatively higher educational and occupational prestige. My findings are also in line with past research on family separation that reveals incarcerated mothers lose a degree of contact with their children and families. However, some women discussed having a great deal of support and contact from their families, often depending on their families’ financial investment. Research on prison abuse focuses on sexual and physical abuse and reveals risk factors and patterns of assault. While my research shows some evidence of sexual and physical abuse, the abuses women reported were primarily verbal and medical. My project extends current research by examining Black women’s experiences of forced labor, family separation, and abuse in Texas prisons, as well as revealing more positive sentiments about incarceration. In this way, my project provides rich, detailed descriptions from formerly incarcerated women about the infrastructure of Texas prisons.



Women’s incarceration, Texas, Black women, Prisons, Labor, Family separation, Familial support, Abuse